Friday, November 30, 2007

Oh, geez.

Remember the hole in the sock?

Well. The Goober was just running around the living room in her Baby Surprise Jacket and I noticed something weird, so I stopped her and took a look. There's a hole in the front of it.

So I said something like "Oh no, a hole in your jacket!"

And the Goober said "Shit!"

Glad to know I've made a lasting impression on the kid.

I am the world's biggest idiot.

Remember those new drugs I switched to? Yeah. Well. One of them is a really strong anti-inflammatory. Other than pain control, they also thin the blood, and one way you can tell you're taking too many is if you start bruising easily. Two nights ago, I noticed that my legs look like someone pounded on them with a hammer. So I skipped my daily doses of the new anti-inflammatory. Guess what?

The migraine's gone.

Yup. I still think the changing weather had something to do with it (I always get bad sinus migraines, spring and fall), but apparently this new drug is what put it over the top into "worst migraines since I fractured my skull" territory. Only took me, what, seven weeks to figure out? Gee, I'm not STUPID or anything.

So today I feel better than I have in two months, even though I've got a sore throat, sinus problems, and my knees and hand are killing me. Which makes me feel like even more of an idiot, but I can't quite figure out why.

-... -

Anyway. Knitting. I've set myself some goals. No, not one of those "knit a sweater in three weeks" goals that I do occasionally when I lose my mind. These are pretty simple.

I need to get out tonight and buy embroidery floss to sew up the neck and hem of the Russian Prime.

I'd also like to finish the nipple warmers this weekend. The one's almost done, and the other is about halfway. I could probably finish them in an afternoon if I sit down and concentrate. THAT is unlikely to happen, but I should manage it spread out over two and a half days.

Once the nipple warmers are done, for my next small carry-around project, I want to knit another Baby Surprise Jacket. They're addictive, I swear. And I've got a newphew who could use one. The yarn would come out of the stash. I'd feel so virtuous.

Maybe I'll luck out and have another good day of knitting. You never know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Knitting good.

Some days are better than others, when it comes to knitting. I'm sure you've all experienced the phenomenon: some days you can't do anything right. Other days, it's almost like you could drop a ball of yarn and it would assemble itself into a perfectly knit sock. Today was one of those do-no-wrong days for me. (At least with the knitting. We shall not discuss the rest of the day. Nope.)

I was getting ready to knit the neckband with some size four/3.5 mm double-points, and thought 'heck, I'll look in my circular needles and see if there's something there' even though I didn't think I had ANY size four circulars, let alone one the right length. And there, still in it's package, was a twenty inch (perfect size for neckbands) size four needle. An Addi Turbo, no less. I think the Needle Fairy left it one night when I wasn't looking.

When I cut the neck steek, I didn't accidentally snip any stranded-color floats, or hack a hole in the chest, or anything.

When I picked up the stitches, I only had to do it once. Even though I didn't count them as I did it, it came out to an even number, which I needed for the K1, P1 rib that I'm doing around the neck.

The cat laid on me the whole time without chewing me, the needles, or the yarn.

Truly, a fantastic day. Other than the rampaging two year old and being sick. Yup. It was a good day. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Good. Day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Comment roundup.

There've been some questions and comments, and I have nothing to blog about today (I've even run out of cool shoes), so I'm doing the fallback; comment on the comments.

First up, the nipple warmers in progress. You get a better idea how they work.

They should be about five inches across, once they're washed and blocked. You get the idea.

Forgot, again, to take a photo of the Russian Prime. At this stage I'll probably wait until I cut the neck steek before I take a photo. (Three steeks on this sweater, and it's not even a cardigan. Whee.)

There were questions about what kind of pan to bake the Fruit Brick in, and how to prepare the pan ahead of time. The pan doesn't really matter; just adjust the bake time as needed (but don't ever use glass). This year I baked the Fruit Brick in a pie tin (to see what would happen), and it came out quite good. I called it Fruit Frisbee. When I make it, I just butter the pan, but if you wanted to get wild and crazy, you could line the pan with baking parchment, which is normal for making fruit cake. This bread is moist enough, though, that you don't really have to worry about it sticking.

Someone else asked why I got stuck pulling Sekhmet out of my mother-in-law's suitcase. The fact is, our cat's a bitch. I'm the only human in the world she's got any respect for, and even that's like the respect a person gives their pillow. She's got all her claws, and likes to bite, so no one else in the family will go near her. I'm considered mildly insane for wrestling with her, actually. Don't get me wrong - she doesn't attack other people. She ignores them (unless they try to pet her - then she swears and smacks them). I get chewed up because I'm constantly playing with her and wrestling her around. So when the cat laid in the suitcase, nobody else in the house was going to touch her. (Other than a bunch of growling and hissing, she didn't do anything.) At the moment, Sekhmet is doing her favorite daytime, cold-weather thing:

In fact, that looks pretty good. I may go try it, myself.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Not ONLY did she take up residence in my mother-in-law's suitcase, she then proceeded to hiss and spit at anyone who came near her, until I had to go in and drag her out, growing and snarling the whole way.

Evil fucker.

Actual knitting content.

Two more little pink points to go, then I join them up into two circles and knit the centers. (This is based on the flower washcloth in "Weekend Knitting" by Melanie Falick, but with smaller 'petals' on the flower.) These are the nipple warmers - in reality, wool inserts to go inside a bra, and keep the ol' boobs warm. These are going to a friend of mine who is rather well-endowed and complains of cold boobs in the winter. Hopefully they'll work.

The Russian Prime body is done - the shoulders are bound off. I made a mistake in the last pattern round that I didn't notice until after it was bound off, so I'm going to do the old duplicate stitch fix-it. (Some day I'd like to knit something that I didn't have to fix later.) Then I think I'm going to do all the finishing - sew the hem, do the ribbing at the neck, and darn in ends - before I start on the sleeves. It's a nice break from the knitting and less finishing to do at the end that way. Forgot to take a photo. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

Otherwise, we're still eating leftovers (last night was turkey risotto). I had to make a second pumpkin pie because no one else got any of the first pie... I ate it all. (They had lemon and key lime to keep them busy, it's not like I starved them.)

We went shopping. The Goober got a hat.

Now I'm going to go shopping again. And wrangle the kid while Christmas lights are put up. And maybe knit some more pink points.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

There was almost a lynch mob.

Meet the traditional husbeast family lemon pie.

Among the husbeast and his parents, this is the number one most popular decadent dessert. It's the first recipe I mooched off his mother, and I make it for him for his birthday instead of cake; my father-in-law also prefers it for his birthday pastry.

Since I had all the stuff out to make pie anyway, I figured I could make a lemon pie for the gang to eat. So I did.

It was sitting on the table, cooling, and I was talking about making it, and I said "Well, I thought about putting in a little nutmeg, like I do with my lemonade, because it always tastes really good in the lemonade." and everyone kind of glared at me. Then I said "I was also thinking of making it with myer lemons, but they didn't have them at the grocery store." by that time, I was getting the Glare of Raw Death from everyone. "But I figured you'd all have a hissy fit if I messed with the holy and sacred lemon pie recipe."

After that they all relaxed a little, though they complained about the heresy of adding nutmeg to the Holy Lemon Pie.


Oh. And the turkey wasn't purple. And the gravy wasn't pink.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I can't imagine where she gets it from.

For the last two or three months, I've been telling the Goober "Grandma and Grandpa are coming for Thanksgiving. You need to learn to say Grandma. Can you say Grandma?" and she would give me that classic 'ya nichevo ne znayu' look, like 'what have you been sniffing?'. Never a word, not so much as a 'guh' on the learning to say grandma front.

Tonight, my in-laws arrive. The Goober walks up and waves and says "Hi, Grandma!" as if she sees them every day and she's said it a million times before.

The teen years are going to be ever so much fun. I can tell already.

One more day.

Until Thanksgiving. We've moved into the cooking zone, where I start making things ahead like breads and pies. I like that zone, or would without a two year old raging around the house that I have to keep an eye on. The cleaning is mostly over, or given up on.

My office/guest room looks like this, which we're going to call 'close enough'.

It's almost done, except some books still need shelved.

Unfortunately, my book shelves look like this:

...I suspect that photo says as much about me as any single photo I've ever taken.

My desk looks like this, but I've given up on it.

Now I'm gearing up to do some cooking. First up is corn pudding, which is so easy it's almost like not cooking. This is the recipe Alton Brown did blindfolded on his Thanksgiving episode. Do yourself a favor, though; if you plan to serve more than two people, double the recipe. The reaction seems to be to eat a piece, say "Hey, this is good" and eat two more. (There is a traditional family corn casserole recipe, but after I tried this one year, I'm not allowed to make it any more.)

Then I'm doing Fruit Brick. This recipe started life as an apple-oat bread recipe in some 'celebrate the holiday' book or magazine or other. I've tweaked it and messed with it for years, and turned it into something totally other; every year I add or substitute something new. This year it's orange zest, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds. There's so much room for substitution, I'll add comments in the ingredient list.

*3-4 shredded apples, with peels. I generally use granny smiths, but you can vary the texture and sweetness and moistness quite a lot by your apple choice; a red delicious and three granny smiths is a nice combo. You can grate them with a cheese grater. Look out for seeds.
*2 eggs
*1/4 cup vegetable oil. I usually use decent olive oil, but I've also used safflower and corn. Olive gives it a nice taste. Regular old vegetable oil is bland but it works.
*1/4 cup water
*1/2 cup white sugar, or 1/4 cup honey. The honey tastes much better, but makes the 'bread' even more dense and moist.
*1/2 teaspoon each salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. I play with the spices a lot; nutmeg is really good, so is allspice. Candied ginger would be good too if you go for that. I'm using fresh orange zest this year. Real vanilla bean scrapings are also yummy.
*one handful chopped nuts. Here you can go wild. The recipe originally called for walnuts, but I find them bitter. I usually go with whatever's local, both for interest and because it's cheaper. In Hawaii I used mac nuts. Here, I use pecans or sunflower seeds.
*1/2 handful raisins. You can substitute any dried fruit here, and you can add quite a lot more than half a handful (though take it easy; it's got to fit in a loaf pan). Give it a rough chop first, if the pieces are big, so it's easier to eat. I've used dried apricots before, and dried berries. This year I'm using dried cranberries.
*2 cups flour. Originally called for white, I often use whole wheat.
*2 handsful rolled oats. This can vary hugely, depending on how moist the other ingredients are. If you've got juicy apples and used honey, go up to three handfuls. Otherwise, tweak it as needed.

Toss the shredded apple in the flour and oats, and set aside. Mix together everything else. Fold in the apples and flour/oats. Cram into a metal loaf pan (glass roaylly screws the baking process - I had raw fruit brick one year) and bake at 350 F for an hour to the rest of your life, depending. An hour usually does it, but do the toothpick test (stick something into the cake and see if ooze sticks to it when you pull it out - if it oozes, it ain't done, but this stuff is moist no matter what, so crumbs are okay). One year it took three hours to bake, when I tried making it with applesauce. The year of the glass baking dish, I finally pulled it out semi-raw, sliced it, and put it under the broiler to finish cooking. (I got raves about how good it was, but it was WAY too labor intensive to do again.)


Anybody want a two year old on a rampage?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hey, Ellen in Indy.

Ellen had a question about some relatives moving to Hawaii, and was there anything they should take that's hard to get there? (In the future, dudes, I'm more than happy to offer advice like this privately, but you've gotta give me a way to get in touch with you.)

It depends a lot on where in Hawaii they're going. Oahu is pretty darn urban, thanks to Honolulu being there. I'd say you can get anything there that you can get on the mainland. Plus a whole lot else besides. The outer islands, you can still get everything the mainland has to offer, but it may take the wonders of mail order, and take some time. The Big Island (named Hawaii) has quite a few 'chains', like book stores and home improvement places and decent grocery stores, but you may have to drive a good bit to get to them. Maui is much the same; you can buy almost anything there but you may have to drive a while. Kuai and Molokai are pretty damn rustic and you may be looking at mail order for a lot of things, even everyday stuff. (A local kid once told me 'There's nothing to do on Molokai but smoke weed and surf.')

On the flip side, if your family enjoys Asian food, they've landed in heaven. And the coffee is really good and really affordable. The community college system affiliated with University of Hawaii is wonderful, if anyone's going back to school.

Culturally, if you look at the whole thing as a fun adventure, it will be. But if you go there and get mad because it isn't just like home, you'll never be happy, because it's NOT just like home.

Oh - if they're on Oahu, tell them to hit the Aloha Stadium flea market for clothes, jewelry, and 'tourist stuff'. It's not like a mainland flea market. It's more like an outdoor shopping mall.


Two days.

Until Thanksgiving. I have mostly gotten it together, at least in terms of the menu and book shelving. The heavy cleaning is the husbeast's job and I'm leaving him to it. I should, at this very moment, be getting ready to hit the grocery store (taming the hair will take at least ten minutes, itself, and probably involve throwing out my shoulder while trying to brush it), but instead I'm writing a blog post.

We've had YET ANOTHER MOTHERFUCKING WEATHER CHANGE DAMN IT, so I'm back on migraine medication. For. The. Birds.

Anyway. Happier news. I've got the neck steeked on the Russian Prime and if I could sit down for ten minutes at a time without thinking of something to clean or put away, I'd get to the shoulders lickety-split and bind 'em off. I would LIKE to have this done for when we go to Florida at the end of December, but I am not going to kill myself over it. Those days are over. I think (hope) I have learned my lesson.

The Goober has been hell on wheels the last couple days. She's got a cold and generally feels like crap. But she had a good nap. How can I tell she had a good nap? This happens:

Please note the curls flopping around on her head. I just stood there laughing at her for quite a while before I thought to get the camera.

Then she went out to the living room and put the drum on her head again.

She's gonna have such fun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving at my house.

ME: I think I'm going to use the roaster to do the turkey.

HUSBEAST: We don't have a roaster.

ME: Sure we do. The one I dye yarn in.

HUSBEAST: Yum. Purple turkey.

ME: I intended to scrub it out first. Besides, the way the roasting process works, if there's color left in there, it won't get on the bird.

HUSBEAST: Oh, okay.

ME: But the gravy might turn pink.

Wow. I'm still alive.

The weather has finally, FINALLY leveled off, and I woke up yesterday morning as if from a trance, wondering what in hell had happened. This migraine thing is the worst I've had in at least two decades, and one of those situations where you don't realize how bad it was, until it's over and you feel better and you're left sitting on the couch going "Wow, that sucked." (For those of you who've been waiting for e-mails or packages or information, my apologies, and now that my brain is functioning, I hope to get to them soon. Real soon. Like today or tomorrow. )

Just in time for Thanksgiving. Thanks to migraines and migraine drugs, I had somehow lost an ENTIRE WEEK and thought Thanksgiving was NEXT week, until yesterday when my mother-in-law called to tell me they'd finalized their plans, and they'd be here Wednesday. I hung up the phone and looked at the husbeast and said "THIS WEDNESDAY???" and ran for the calendar.

Yup. This Wednesday.

And the house looks like I've spent six weeks laying on the couch, drugged out on migraine medication, cursing the sunlight. (Go figure.) I've got two days to clean the house, including my office, which doubles as the guest room. If I shelve all the books thrown around the house, the place will look cleaner, right off. Hopefully that and some dusting will get the job done.

Oh, and did I mention the husbeast is in shift work and probably won't be home for any useful amount of time until Thursday, at which time he'll eat turkey, sleep, and go back to work?

Anyway. Photos. On her birthday, the Goober got this:

The world's cutest scooter. The husbeast spent the weekend trying to teach the Goober how to use it; she still doesn't get the idea of putting one foot on and pushing with the other (though we had a breakthrough on that late last night). Mostly she wants to stand on the scooter while Dadad pushes her around.

I don't think I need to add it's really cute.

The other night I washed my hair and let it dry normally, instead of my usual routine (which means braiding it or putting it up in a knot, wet, so it dries fairly straight). It wound up poofed all over the place, and since all of you are always commenting on the Goober's hair, I had the husbeast take a photo.

You can see curls along the edge, and how it separates into something similar to dread-locks; at the end the 'dreads' are curly, too. Two feet long, and the hair still curls. THIS is where the Goober gets the curls from. Even our cowlicks are in the same place. (The Goober's color comes from the husbeast and his mum's side of the family, far as we know.) There's also a good shot of my white streak. That IS white, not a reflection of the camera flash. When describing my hair I often mention the Bride of Frankenstein, but the husbeast is more concise and just calls them 'skunk streaks'. There's one on each side, at the temple. As I get older, they keep getting wider, and more and more silver shows up scattered through the rest of my hair.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go shelve books. For the rest of my life.

Shoulda been a librarian and gotten paid for it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Unsanctioned knitting.

I've done a couple of these the last few days. They're like potato chips; you can't do just one. You bind one off and go "That didn't take long" and cast on another. Yes, that's Purple Trainwreck sock yarn, if you're wondering. I had half a skein of it sitting here, waiting for me to make it into socks. It would have taken until 2015 toget to it - at least - so to hell with it, I'll make some squares.

Over at Mason-Dixon Knitting, they've got a call out for squares. They wanna sew them together and auction a couple blankets to raise money for a kid with (I think) Cereberal Palsy. Since I had the Goob and started blowing all my money on diapers, I don't have a lot of cash to donate to charities, but I've got enough sock yarn to float the Seventh Fleet, so I figured, hell, I could crank out a few. So I did. They're easy; cast on three stitches, increase once each row until the 'legs' of the square measure four inches (or ten cm), then decrease one stitch every row back down to three stitches, and bind off. Leave tails to sew up with. Viola. Charity contribution.

I don't normally get involved in charity knitting (obviously, if you've read my blog for any length of time), but this time of year I start thinking about everything I'm thankful for. (The US Thanksgiving holiday is coming up in a week and change.) Top of my list is a healthy kid, and the money and gear to take care of her properly. So this one kind of pushed my buttons - it's for a kid, after all. (If he can't have his health, at least he's got cool parents and friends.)

Speaking of my kid, she's been wearing the drum around on her head again.

As for the knitting project monogamy (to jackrabbit back and forth between topics... the weather changed AGAIN, so I'm a little loopy), it's going well but it's not working. If that makes sense.

I'm up to the neckline on the Russian Prime (which means there's only about four inches left to knit on the body) and hope to have the front neck stitches on a holder and the rest of it steeked, tonight. (Anyone want a tutorial/commentary on neckline steeking?) It's been going well, other than having to tear out that round I screwed up while reading the other day. And of course, knitting on just one project at a time gets the project done a lot faster.

However. I was sitting at the pharmacy Wednesday, thinking "I need a sock". Or at least, some small take-along project. For situations like that. With further meditation on my old, pre-insanity-of-2006 knitting methods, I recall that I usually had two projects on the needles, one simple and one complex (back in the day, often a Dale of Norway and a single-color stockinette blanket) and would switch back and forth as desired. So I'm gonna go back to that. (Depending, I consider lace easy, take-along knitting, heaven help me.)

So my next small project?

Nipple warmers.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bloody weather.

The week started with weather in the forties (about 5 C). Wednesday was in the eighties (26 C), and now it's back down to the fifties again. It's no wonder I'm having migraines. I'm starting to wonder why EVERYONE doesn't have migraines. (Keep in mind, I've been in this area for two and a half years, but before that I lived in a place where a five degree temperature shift was a big deal, and this fifty degrees between day and night bullshit NEVER happened.) We're hoping this is the end of the yo-yoing, and the weather is finally cold to stay. That and a shift in my hormone cycle (I will spare you the details) gives me hope that my migraines will be gone soon. They've already backed off significantly.

Add in that my new medications have kicked in, and I feel almost human.

Wednesday, I had to go to the pharmacy to pry more migraine drugs out of them, and I drove there and back with the windows down. Even though I had a migraine from hell, I knew I had to get the Goober outside, even if it was just to run around in the yard.

Due to the migraines, she's mostly been out at night the last couple weeks (poor kid, being raised by vampires). When we went outside Wednesday, the first thing she said was "Oh dee, leafs on de droun." (Oh dear, leaves on the ground.) Then she ran about inspecting the vegetation (as a plant freak, I'm so proud).

Eventually she settled down in the drive, sifting through piles of leaves and acorns, holding everything up for inspection and for me to name it. Here, she's got an acorn (and yes, she can say acorn, but she thinks it's two words - a corn):

After a good bit of plant inspection, I finally got her to play soccer for a little while; at least, soccer as understood by a two year old.

David Beckham, eat your heart out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Remember the ugly socks? (If not, they're sport socks I knit last winter with a test-dyed yarn that was really ugly.) I've worn them about, oh, five times. Today I had them on, with my feet up on the foot stool, and the Goober walked over and said "Look, Mumum. Hole." and stuck her finger through the sole of my sock, between my toes.

I jerked off the sock, saw the hole in the bottom, and yelled, "SHIT."

The Goober giggled and said with that perfect intonation kids do, "SHIT! SHIT SHIT SHIT!"

I had actually gotten her to quit saying shit and start saying oops. Shot that all to hell today.

Plus there's a bloody damned hole in my sock.


Plus, the new J D Robb novel is out, and the husbeast was a prince and brought it home for me today, so I sat down and read it. I decided to knit while I was reading, because I'm an idiot, and inevitably screwed up the Russian Prime and now I've got to pull it off the needle and rip back two rounds.

I've also been doing unsanctioned knitting. Should be photos tomorrow; it's not much, and it's going fast. Should be done tonight. You won't be terribly impressed, but I'll own up to blowing the 'project monogamy' thing less than a month into the whole idea.

Damn it, I don't wanna rip back the Russian Prime. Or darn the damn hole in my sock. Or try to convince my kid, AGAIN, to quit saying 'shit'.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tattoos, and stuff.

Over at Bells' blog, she shows a photo of her tattoo (a nice tree of life design) and an explanation on why she chose it. She asked for stories about other people's tattoos, and so I thought I'd discuss mine. (This would make a fine meme, so if you've got a tattoo, consider yourself tagged. Cough up a photo and the story of when and why you got it.)

This is on my left wrist, known as a 'bracelet' tat.

You all may have noticed I have a pretty significant interest in history. It's strange, though, because being adopted, I don't know what my own personal history really is. My adoption records list my cultural/genetic heritage as "Northern Europe", and I was born and raised in an area populated by German settlers, so I figured there was some kind of German/Viking thing going on. Then my hair started turning silver in big streaks and I assumed there was some Celtic mixed in, somewhere - it's not an unusual combination. (Prematurely silver hair - mine started turning white when I was sixteen - is a recessive gene found in a lot of Celtic-dominated groups, much like red hair is found among the Norse.)

I had always wanted a tattoo, since I was a kid, so when I turned eighteen I got serious and started looking around at tattoo designs. Quite early-on I got the idea of Celtic knotwork (this was 1987 or so, long before the huge popularity of all things Celtic). Celtic knotwork, while kind of Celtic, was also a design used among the Norse and later societies like the Anglo-Saxons. So I figured it covered all the bases in terms of what my heritage probably was. Plus, I liked how it looked. That was a biggie - I sure wasn't getting a tattoo of something I didn't like, heritage be damned.

Then came finding the EXACT knotwork design. That actually took the longest. From 1987 to 1993, I scrounged through libraries and later web sites, looking at all the knotwork I could find, and nothing really spoke to me. Then, Morgan Llywelyn published her book "Finn MacCool", a novelization of an Irish folk tale, and there, on the cover, was the knotwork I wanted. (She's an Irish history/culture scholar who, in between publishing scholarly works, writes wonderful novelizations of ancient Irish myth. Try "Red Branch", the easiest-read and most entertaining version of the Ulter Cycle that I've ever encountered.)

At the time, we were getting ready to move to Hawaii, and the husbeast pointed out that we had one of the best tattoo parlors on the East Coast, Ancient Art, right down the road in Yorktown, and if I wanted the tat, I should haul ass down there and get it.

So I did.

I walked into the place, slapped the book on the counter, and said, "I want this, around my wrist." the guy working that day peered at it and said, oh, you want ____ (I forget his name), he specializes in knotwork tats." and went and got someone else. We talked about how exactly I wanted the tat - how big, solid or shaded, outlined or not, etc - we had a major disagreement over color (he wanted to outline it in black, I insisted on woad blue for the whole thing; I won, it's my arm), and he told me to come back in three days for the actual tat. (I found out later, that's the policy with a lot of really reputable places, when you go in looking like a conservative librarian, and demand a tattoo - even if they have the time right then, they make you wait, to be sure you want it.) Three days later, I went back. It took about an hour.

At the time, I was working as an accounting clerk, and got the tat on my left wrist, figuring I could cover it with a watch or a big cuff bracelet as needed. Obviously, when you're working with people's money, you need to look trustworthy, and fifteen years ago, tattoos on females were a big no-no in terms of looking reliable. (They still aren't smiled upon, in most of the US, though they're starting to chill out a little, depending on the tattoo and where it is on your body.) What I didn't count on, though, was the total unobservant-ness of the non-tattooed world. People with tattoos or an intest in them will spot my tat immediately and ask about it. People who don't? Sometimes they never notice. I've had people who've known me for years in some cases all of a sudden gasp and ask me when I got a tattoo - the answer is always "Before you met me."

Just last month at my gym, the owner of the place was doing my weigh and measure. She laid her finger on my tattoo, started laughing, and said "When did you get this?" and I said "Uh, 1993?" and she kept laughing and admitted she had just noticed it. She, at least, had seen enough tattoos to realize it was old and she was unobservant. I assume most people see it and their brains think 'bracelet' and it just doen't process.

When I lived in Hawaii, I got a lot of questions over it. People would ask if it was an "Island" tattoo, meaning Polynesian, because knotwork has a strong resemblance to some of the carvings done by the Maori in New Zealand. And I would explain yes, it was an island tattoo, but the island was Ireland. And we would have a nice talk about the similarities and differences in our cultures, whatever they were.

At the moment I am designing another tattoo - an arm band for my right bicep, of flowers from all the places I've lived. And I have promised myself that if this working out thing does the trick and I wind up with abdominal muscles I'm willing to bare in public, I will get a belly tattoo. Though that probably won't happen, the abs OR the tattoo. Hope springs eternal.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My cat is a freakazoid.

I know, I know. Two Sekhmet posts in one day. But truly, she has been bonkers lately. The Goober's been chasing her and it makes her crazy.

When the husbeast and I were little, we always loved playing with boxes. So these days, when we get boxes in the mail, we give them to the Goober to play with. She eventually trashes them, and we throw them away. That said, we've often got two or three boxes sitting around in the living room. Lately, Sekhmet has been enamored of one in particular:

She gets into it all the time, sits there, circles around, and eventually gets back out again.

Today she figured out what she wanted to do with it: Lay down. Mind you, this is a fifteen pound cat crammed into this box. I'd have sworn there was no way she'd fit in there, until I turned around, and there she was.

I think she's defying the laws of physics, somehow. Or else she'll collapse into a black hole, soon, and have her own gravitational field. Light is starting to bend around her.

Sekhmet, you evil stinkbeast.

The Goober has this little humming sigh noise she makes when she wakes up. Last night, I was up late playing Civ 4, and I heard the noise. Figuring she'd woken up, I went in to check on her in her crib.

She was asleep. Hmmm.

I went back out to my nest, played a couple rounds of Civ 4, and there was the sound again. Back I went into the nursery, and there the Goober was, out cold, sleeping like a little cherub. Very strange. I began to worry about audio hallucinations from my medication (it's happened before).

Leaving the nursery, I walked back out into the living room, and spotted the cat, sleeping on her little nest of blankets in the corner. Hmmmm.

I stood there, watching the cat, and sure enough, about a minute later, the cat sighed in her sleep and let out the same damn noise as the Goober makes.

I swear Sekhmet does this stuff on purpose. She plans it.

MIGRAINE NEWS: For those of you who've been asking questions. (The rest, feel free to move along. There will not be a quiz later.) When I was about five, I fell off a tractor, landed face-first on a cement pad, and broke my skull. The fracture itself was never found on X-ray, but I was leaking spinal flud out my nose, so it was definitely some kind of break. (When I relayed this in my EMT class, decades later, my instructor looked at me like I had announced I had three arms, and said "Well, you're dead and too mean to lay down, aren't you?") Anyway, after that, I had really killer, classic migraines for a couple years. Tunnel vision, strange smell, halos, you name it. Eventually they tapered off, and by middle school (age ten, about), I wasn't having them any longer.

What I have now, I think of as 'killer sinus headaches', not migraines. I've HAD migraines, and to me it involves tunnel vision and being completely unable to function. This was, to my mind, just a really really really nasty headache. I've had sinus infections my entire life, and the two are definitely related, so I figured, you know, excess snot, whatever.

Back in about 1993, I had my nose 'fixed', where they break it and open up the air passages and otherwise clean things out. After that, the sinus infections and headaches dropped to about two per year (when the weather changed - go figure), and that was, in comparison, pretty good.

I didn't realize I had, apparently, 'sinus-related migraines' until about two years ago, when my last doctor (the cool one I was sad to lose) said, "Have you ever tried migraine drugs?" and I said "This is sinus." and she said "Yeah, I know. Humor me." She gave me Zomig - a straight vasoconstrictor, like Imitrex - and while it bothered my neck, it made the actual headache go straight away. Amazing.

This fall, I asked my new doc for 'a low dose of something mild', to see exactly how little medication I can take, and get the headache to go away. (I still consider these migraines mild, in comparison to the crazy ones I got as a child.) He gave me Midrin, which I understand is a very old, low-key medication. It works! With no side effects. None. The giddyness I had the first couple days was just lack of pain - I took two Midrin yesterday, and the headache went away, and I otherwise felt fine, and that was that. Yay.

Weirdly, the Midrin also seems to work on my chronic pain. It's making odd nerve damage effects in my hand milder. No idea why, but it's a drug that affects the brain, so, it's possible. I'm going to make an appointment with my doc and ask him about taking this stuff regularly, as part of my chronic pain control. The up side would be no more migraines. Whee!

So there you go, more than you ever wanted to know about my sinus passages.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2007

Before I take this any further, I realize that often Vogue dictates EXACTLY what they want to the designer, down to color and yarn used. The only choice the designer has is whether to do what Vogue asks and earn a pay check, or go without eating. I get that. And most of the things they put in Vogue Knitting are decent projects, I just wonder how Vogue they are. (And want to shoot the stylist.) Occasionally they publish a project of horrible workmanship that disgusts me. But for the most part, I realize it's the Vogue's Editorial department that's responsible for the schizophrenic message they send ("We're Vogue Knitting! We're avant garde! We're doing folk sweaters! We're doing crochet! Who are we again?") and not the designers.

The Vogue Knitting web site is down, so I took photos of the magazine with my camera. The photos suck. They're blurry and I almost didn't use them, but they ARE just good enough to give you an idea what I'm talking about. I refer to the pattern numbers, not page numbers, and anything in quotes is from the text of the magazine.

There are two articles worth reading in this issue. One by Lily Chin on fit and tailoring garments to fit you, and one by Meg Swansen about fisherman's ganseys. Lily Chin's series of articles over the last three or four issues has been worth the cost of the magazines; all you need to know about fit and how to make it work for you.

1. An upholstered chair by Nicky Epstein. I honestly don't know how I feel about this one. My first reaction was "I didn't realize I'd gotten an issue of Vogue Furniture Refinishing". But I like it. I like it enough I'm thinking about redoing an antique chair of mine with something similar. But this is more of Vogue's weirdness. A CHAIR? How in fuck is a chair high fashion?

2. A hat and muff, CROCHETED. We all know the "Is this Vogue Crochet, motherfuckers?" rant, so just mentally re-run it through your head, here.

RUSSIAN DRESSING: Har. What a clever name for the next group of projects, a salad dressing. Isn't that FUNNY? And it's supposedly a Russian theme, but damn if I've ever seen any of this stuff while studying fashion OR Russian history. But what do I know?

3. Short-sleeved cardigan in a large gauge, with deer knit into it. Call me crazy, but I thought deer were a motif in Native American "Cowichan" sweaters, not Russian. But the model's wearing a big fuzzy hat, so that's okay. This would be nice in a solid color, but how warm is a winter sweater with short sleeves?

4. Beige, long-sleeved, long-waisted, wool sweater with lace motifs. Eh. Nice enough. I wonder about the construction of the neck, though. That doesn't look like it would go together easily.

5. More hexagonal madness from Norah Gaughan. I desperately want to knit this coat, so I am not remotely rational on the subject. I will say that it's got very clever, very smart construction (you knit the pieces together as you go, so it's almost seamless). Probably the cleverest knit in the magazine. But it's about as Russian as I am.

6. Intarsia-knit floral wrap with a simple crochet edge. Nice.

7. On the left in the photo, a grey cabled vest. With pockets. Pretty run of the mill, but okay.
8. On the right in the photo, a knitted hat with ear flaps and fake fur. Looks like Snoopy should be wearing it while flying his dog house.

9. Everyday purple mohair cowl-neck sweater. Nice enough, but it's probably cheaper and easier to just go buy one at a mid-range department store.

10. "Delightful Turkish motifs" make a fair-isle looking short-sleeved tunic thingie. First, I thought we were doing Russian styles, and second, if it's that unflattering to the model, why do I think I'll look better in it?

11. Now THIS is Vogue. Fitted, flattering, unusual. Two cabled columns follow the contours of the body to accentuate the waist and boobs, while at the same time looking warm enough to actually wear in winter. The edging is done with crochet, but I guess you can't have everything.

18 CARAT KNITTER: Paulina Porizkova talks up her new book (a novel of some sort) and discusses knitting. Vladmir Teriokhin does all the design work; usually I like his designs, but these seem pretty uninspired. I wonder if it was some joint design deal between Vlad and Paulina. The article's unclear on the subject.

12. Metallic gold cardigan with oddly puffy elbows combined with 3/4 length sleeves. If this were in gray wool instead of lurex, it would look like half the sweaters my grandmother owned.

13. One of the greatest fashion models of the twentieth century is wearing this jacket, working it for all she's worth, and it looks like a bathrobe. Why on earth would anyone else think they would look better in it than freaking PAULINA??? ...on the other hand, if you wanna knit yourself a bathrobe, this is the pattern for you. It would make a nice one.

14. Knitted vest with matching knitted tie. How very 80s. I'm having Duran Duran flashbacks. Dear gods, make it stop!!

15. Fairly average seed-stitch cardigan in two colors. I kinda like it, but it's not stunningly sophisticated or anything. (In fact, if I like something it's almost guranteed to not be stylish.) Do you have ANY idea how skinny someone has to be, to put on a giant belt made of several layers of leather, over a sweater AND a shirt, and look like they have a waist? I'm hating this new belts-over-sweaters fashion for that very reason; mere mortals would look like a barrel in a getup like this.

BRIT KNITS: Holy fuck, the British knit!! Did YOU know that?? Whoa. Amazing. I never knew!

16. Speaking of schizophrenic. This is a knitted tee shirt. I don't know about you, but knitted tees mean SUMMER to me, not FREAKING HOLIDAY IN WINTER. And what's with the multiple patterns? It looks like someone slashed up four sweaters and grafted them together. And horizontal lines are SO FLATTERING.

17. Cable-knit sweater with no outstanding design characteristics. It's nice enough, but I've already got about ten of them in my closet in different colors. How Vogue is a hundred-year-old sweater style?

18. Multi-colored cable knit jacket in neutral colors. Kind of a modern take on an old style, which is cool. And it's got a vertical line to it, which is always good. Still annoyed by skinny people belting bulky sweaters, though. SHOOT THE STYLIST!! (I hadn't yelled about the stylist yet.)

19. Sweater vest with intarsia leaf-thingies in earth tones. I've been seeing vests like this since the seventies; very preppy, very warm, very businesslike. Is this Vogue yet?

20. Fair Isle sweater (really Fair Isle, with the traditional motifs and colors) by Alice Starmore. Ooooh. Aaaah.

21. Sort-of Fair Isle sweater with snowflakes and A BIG FREAKING RED BELT. They put this and the previous Starmore sweater on opposite pages, so with the book open, you have the two of them laying there. It was a dumb way to lay out the magazine; next to Starmore's small gauge and subtlety, this is like putting a kid's coloring next to a VanGogh.

22. A cardigan from Brandon Mably. It's got a giant British flag motif done in self-striping pink and gray yarn. Riiiiight.

23. Nice-but-average blue Fair-Isleish vest, with an inset of puprle lace (??) down the left side. It's certainly different. I'd knit this without the inset, personally.

GREAT SCOTT: Oooh, lookie, another clever title. I'm gonna laugh so hard. This is a section of designs by Tom Scott, who is some kind of Fifth Avenue knitwear designer.

24. Short-sleeved, oversized, super-bulky pullover with cowl neck. This is knit with Baby Alpaca Grande. I looked. Inch-thick alpaca is never going to be flattering, and it's a heat stroke waiting to happen. No finishing on the edges, either. I'm a snob about this stuff, and I realize it, but I think of stuff like this as 'lazy knitting'.

25. Wrap/poncho thingie. The stitch pattern has long strings of yarn hanging off it, making it look like either it was badly finished, or it was snagged to hell. I look at it and wish for a darning needle to fix all the ends hanging out.

26. There's one in every issue. You know, the design that makes me go "What the FUCK?" meet the WTF design for the holiday issue. It's this cardigan sort of thing, with one side reaching the model's waist, and the other side reaching past her knees. No photo of the back, but I bet it's a train wreck. The whole thing is held together with what MIGHT be a kilt pin, but I swear it's a stitch holder. And there are ends hanging out all over it, like the last pattern. WHYWHYWHY would you knit a sweater that looks like a giant mistake?? My first thought when I looked at this was "You know, I knit something just like that once, that year I was on Percocet four times a day and had a steel plate and two screws in my hand. I should have kept it and submitted it to VK."

27. More super-bulky at two stitches per inch. This one looks like it's a half-knit sweater that someone got fed up with, said "Fuck this." and wore it out as-is. You can't tell from the photo, but it's got ONE arm hole, you put your arm through, and then fling the rest of the fabric around your neck. I don't have to point out that 99% of the time, asymetric desgins look like mistakes, do I?

I had the husbeast flip through this issue, curious to see what he thought. Having known me for twenty-odd years and been married to me for fifteen, he knows a good bit about knitting, himself. Of this last section, he said it looks like someone ran out of time or forgot the deadline and just threw stuff together at the last minute. That's from a non-knitting person, saying that.

NUTCRACKER SWEET: Hahaha. Another clever title by the brillant copywriters at VK. Golly, the cleverness. And can we track down the stylist who put these poor models in tutus and toe shoes, and kill them? I've worn toe shoes. Unless you're a trained ballet dancer, they're very hard to walk in and a good way to twist an ankle. I bet the models were delighted.

28. Knitted dress. Nice enough, but who in hell would wear this in winter?? A couple years ago they did this kickass, fitted cable-knit dress for their winter/holiday issue. It's possible to knit winter dresses. So what the fuck is this??

29. Fair-isleish cardigan with HUGE horizontal stripe across the boobs, fur trim, and pink satin patch pockets. Urgh.

30. Knitted tee shirt with Fair-isle motifs (what is it with the horizontal stripes, this issue?) and strange, under-the-boobs styling. Not what I'd call winter wear. And if you've got boobs, the sweater will explode.

31. Knitted camisole top. What in hell is this doing in a winter knitwear issue?

32. Beaded lace wrap. Very nice. I may knit this in another color, for a Christmas gift next year.

33. Horizontally striped tank top. With lace panels. Flattering AND warm.

34. HOLY FUCK! It's a Dalek! Call the Doctor!

35. Sleeveless, V-neck, 'racer back' lace dress. But it's knit with cashmere, so it's PERFECTLY WARM!